Game Pass is the epitome of swings and roundabouts. One minute I get used to playing loads of great games, and then the next there’s diddly squat. I should be thankful for the downtime because at least then I get the time to play.
If you remember, I promised not to be so lazy this month. There’s some fantastic new additions to the Game Pass library and I can’t wait to tell you all about them. What’s even better, is that three of the games have some form of crossplay support. Get in!
If you didn’t already know, there’s a cool feature on Game Pass that allows users to add games to their play later list. This is good for those times when you’re already at peak capacity and don’t want forget the games you’re going to be playing next. Try the feature out with some of these fantastic games.
MLB The Show 23
If you’re anything like me, there’s been times in life when you wish you could steal the show. Maybe you’re playing a board game with mates and you’ve got the perfect finish lined up, only for those intricate plans to crumble at the last. Who am I kidding… You either love baseball or you don’t. But, hear me out.
The latest game to the franchise depicts the world of baseball more magnificently than ever. I reckon it would do you no harm to give the game a go for that reason alone. The game will also feature crossplay between Xbox, PS5 and Switch, so you can play with all your friends.
In addition to updated graphics and performance, there’s more than more than 5000 player animations and defensive upgrades for a starker difference between players with high and low fielding attributes. There’s new casual and simulation enhancements for all players, useful updates to help those who are new to baseball and tools to help reduce the on-screen clutter for those used to the game.
I don’t know how many of you play this in the UK, but I do vaguely recall a baseball league where I used to live so there must be an audience. If baseball’s your thing, go out and live your dream on the iconic diamond. Incredibly, Game Pass members can play an early access event from 24 March for four days.
From one show to another type of show. Civilization VI has finally arrived on consoles. If you haven’t played a ‘Civ’ before, you’re in for a whale of a time. Picture any sophisticated, or non-sophisticated Civilization, and imagine being able to build it from the ground up.
In Civilization, you start with a few people that will ‘found’ your first city. From then on, you decide the direction you want to take this burgeoning society and lead the populace towards a wondrous future. Play however you want: develop a scientific community that leads by example, build a military juggernaut to vanquish those pesky foes, or channel your refined taste and become the cultural centre that other civilizations can only aspire to.
Civ is a highly addictive, turn-based strategy game that captures the phrase, “just one more turn”. One minute it will be 9 o’clock and you’ll be preparing yourself for beddy-byes; the next, it will be 2am, your eyes sore, throat dry, wondering what happened.
The game plays brilliantly on controller as well. It’s a pleasure to be able to sit back and relax instead of being hunched over a keyboard and mouse. The graphics are strong, even on the Series S and I haven’t experienced any lag, even after a long game. Civ supports crossplay and includes all the latest game updates and improvements. What’s not to like?
We seem to be going through a phase of strategy ports. Hop on board the train, controller in hand, relax into your comfy sofa and plan your destination for humanity.
The first Ni No Kuni was a silent revelation. At least that’s how it seemed to me at the time. A friend of mine had bought the game and we played it at his house. I was enamoured by the artistry, the simple, effective story and the monster collection aspect of the game. The music is captivating and sets a tone that could inspire other designers.
Cut to part two. Revenant Kingdom is set hundreds of years after the events of Wrath of the White Witch and propels the gameplay to new heights. From a story centred on a lonesome child, to one that incorporates an entire kingdom.
Players have the ability to build and manage Evan’s kingdom, freely roam the open world and experience a Ghibli-esque panorama. The battling features a mixture of melee combat and the use of ‘Higgledies’, which are small creatures that exist in several forms and represent six elements, each with their own strengths.
The story is centred on Evan, who inherits the throne after his father’s death. Evan runs into trouble when challenged by his father’s advisor, and flees Ding Dong Dell promising to establish a new kingdom in which everyone can be free and happy. Overall, the game remains true to the originality of Wrath of the White Witch, and ups the ante with a grander story that warrants the incredible kingdom players get to explore.
Valheim (Game Preview)
I struggle badly with crafting games. I have never been able to get into Minecraft and I have sadly been unable to crack the Subnautica code. The latter really distresses me because I love everything about the game, but the crafting. I’m easily overwhelmed by the endless list of things to craft and get board when I can’t keep up with the recipes.
Cue Valheim, another crafter that I’d earmarked as a ‘must play’ and a ‘will like’. Only Valheim does things a little differently. Instead of throwing you into a world and quickly inundating you with an IKEA brochure of things to build, it does everything a little bit slower.
Considering the game is only 1GB, the scenery is tremendous. The lighting works wonders in tandem with the pixelated textures and the developers, it seems, want you to do more than craft. Initially, the game, for me at least, was all about exploration. Slowly learning and accumulating the knowledge you need to survive in the world.
The water will kill you without any stamina, smoke is a real threat and not just some animated beauty, and trees, if unobserved, can cause bodily harm. Yes, they can even knock your house down. It’s a dangerous world and one that respects a cautious approach, which suits my methodical play style.
It may be a work in progress, but Valheim is nonetheless a rounded survival game. It’s set in a procedurally-generated world that is obviously inspired by Norse mythology. The setting is simultaneously alive and sparse, and there’s an admirable jankiness that underpins the fabric of the game. Nothing game breaking, just sweet and innocent. Think Ashen.
After a couple of evenings, I’d built a house (don’t forget your chimney), constructed a bed to sleep in and fashioned some chests to store my goods. I reached a dead-end and didn’t know what I needed to do next, until I stumbled upon some flint on the shore near my house. It’s been a slow burn, but it has improved my relationship with crafters.
Before I forget, the aim of Valheim is to explore, to battle unique enemies, play and build with friends and construct great halls fit for the most daring Vikings. Until eventually, you’ll come up against the bosses and they will make you forget about that peaceful home near the sea.
What Am I Playing?
After reaching renown level 100 in Sea of Thieves and unlocking Flameheart’s Cutlass, I decided a break was needed. I don’t like to play games to exhaustion, so as soon as I’ve reached a notable target, I switch-up.
The crossplay in Halo Infinite came later and I completely missed its release. I was reminded by an errant post on Twitter (where you can follow me @TitmusBenjamin) and didn’t want to miss out any longer. I drafted a friend who was up for the challenge and we set about our co-op playthrough as though we were playing Halo for the first time.
The most noticeable feeling I had when booting up the game was one of sentimentality. Halo, no matter which title, has a knack of feeling like a Halo game and reminding the player just why they love Halo so much.
Playing Halo Infinite has returned me, spiritually, to the days of sticky grenades and shotguns. To the times when I turned a corner only to be immediately vapourised by a sword-wielding friend. Or the time when I planted a sticky grenade on a friend’s head from the other side of the level.
If those moments were immortalised in a mythology, I’ve been re-enacting them in Halo Infinite. The past is repeating. The gameplay is as smooth as Halo has always been, the gunplay is tight and efficient and the open world is so Halo. Of course, there’s new game mechanics for players to get accustomed to, but nothing questionable. I particularly enjoy the grapple hook and have found it very useful. Halo is safe, it’s comforting in its discomfort and rewards its players with simple fun.
Here’s to 22 years of Halo.
Let us know what games you’ve been playing over on our socials. They don’t have to be on Game Pass, but Ben would like that.